The basic storyline here is that a man who seems to always dress in yellow with a wide-brimmed hat captures a young monkey from the jungle, takes him home to put in the zoo but ends up rather adopting George (in a subsequent book) to live in his house. George causes all kinds of mischief but it always turns out alright in the end.
All the stories about George follow a similar pattern, although I find the originals more endearing; the later books that have been written by a different author are a bit too formulaic for me. But the originals have a few issues of their own. One is that they definitely show evidence of being written in a different era. There seems to be no problem with the idea that a man on vacation (or whatever he was doing there- exploring? collecting more likely) can just bring a wild animal home with him. I find the method of capture charming, as it reflects the insatiable curiosity of the little monkey- the man simply puts his hat on the ground, George approaches and tries to put it on himself, hides his own eyes, and is caught. On the way home via ship George falls overboard and is rescued; once back in America he spends the night at the man's house and eats dinner at the table, then smokes a pipe (hello- what?!) before going to bed. The next day the monkey is left alone for a while and plays with the telephone (a very archaic-looking instrument to my kids!) which gets him in trouble with the fire department and thrown in jail. He escapes, walks across telephone wires, flies away with a bunch of balloons and eventually is found by the iconic man-with-the-yellow-hat (this fellow never has a real name) who takes him to the zoo where he appears happy despite the austere environment- a bare cage with just a swing.
I'm guessing most of the issues here won't bother kids at all. The one that actually bugs me most is that George is consistently called a monkey when he looks like a chimpanzee- although his fur is reddish brown, not black.
It's funny though; even though when I think closely about it I find some things odd or inappropriate about the original stories, I still like them better than the newer books. (There are two sets of these, which we've found at the library. One which mimicks the original style closely, the others seem to be based on a tv series and has a smooth, animated look, not hand-illustrated. I have another set of minor issues with these, which will come up later if I continue to write about them). The originals just have more charm, and of course are loaded with nostalgia for me. My mom read them to me over and over, when I was a kid.
Rating: 4/5 ......... 64 pages, 1941 ....... find this book at Powell's or on Amazon